John and Jeanne Marszalek

John F. Marszalek graduated from Canisius College and the University of Notre Dame. A member of the Mississippi State University faculty from 1973 to 2002, he was a prolific writer on the Civil Rights Movement, authoring the Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights: From Emancipation to the Present with Charles Lowery. He also published work on two Starkville area black leaders, including Douglas Conner.

Jeanne A. Marszalek, a graduate of St. Mary's College, was a long-time leader in community race relations and the 1996 winner of the "Unity in the Community" Award from the Oktibbeha County NAACP. She served for ten years as chair of the Oktibbeha County Democratic Executive Committee and was a delegate to two national conventions.


"The Marszalek Library and Lecture Series."University Library at Mississippi State University. http://library.msstate.edu/content/templates/?a=580&/

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Oktibbeha County Race Relations Team

The Oktibbeha County Race Relations Team was created in 1993 as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Quality Community Initiative. The group consisted of 15 to 20 black and white citizens of Oktibbeha County and coordinated dialogue projects and community events. During the trial of William Jerome Manning, a young black man convicted of killing two white college students, the Race Relations Team worked to heal divides within the community. In 1994, the Race Relations Team worked to make Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations an interracial community event.

The program was involved in training local school administrators, mediating an annexation dispute between the city of Starkville and the NAACP, and submitting educational newspaper columns on race relations. Other Mississippi communities such as Grenada County and Choctaw County have called on the Race Relations Team to share its experiences and successes. The program has been featured in newspapers such as The Starkville Daily News, The Commercial Dispatch and The Clarion-Ledger.


“Promising Practices: Oktibbeha County Race Relations Team.”President’s Initiative on Race. http://clinton2.nara.gov/Initiatives/OneAmerica/Practices/pp_19980804.4161.html

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